A review: Wonder Woman

As a fan of DC Comics from childhood to the date, getting a good DCEU movie has been a grueling process. I liked BvS, although it was a flawed movie. Suicide Squad was bad and Man of Steel has some controversial details. So Wonder Woman had a lot on her shoulders if this DC project was to succeed. Did it work?  Read only if you don’t mind SPOILERS.

I will put it this way, at risk of sounding like hyperbole: I haven’t seen such a great origin superhero movie since the first Iron Man movie and for DC, since the first Superman movie. Wonder Woman is so great that she alone has proved that this shared universe has hope. And it did it in the most logical way, by not talking about the shared universe, but concerning itself to tell a character story first and leave the shared universe out, aside from the framing device that amounts to less than 5 minutes of the total run. In that regard, WW does what the earlier installments of the MCU did (and have lost as they have become more formulaic and the universe more expansive), take the best elements of the characters long history (75 years for Wondy) and distillate them into a character study of growth and learning. Yes the background is the codifier for ‘War is Hell’, WWI which was the clash between old war strategies and new weaponry, but at the end of the day is the story of a heroine coming to terms with the fact

Yes the background is the codifier for ‘War is Hell’, WWI which was the clash between old war strategies and new weaponry, but at the end of the day is the story of a heroine coming to terms with the fact that she can’t save everyone as much as she wishes and there is not a single cause for the woes of humanity. But that doesn’t make humans irredeemable, just fallible. Thus the role of a heroine like Diana is to inspire humans to be better, to learn, grow and forgive. And the only way she can do that is by learning to do those things herself. In that way, she becomes better than her parents or her half-brother.

There are some obvious tropes and twists in the film that a keen-eyed writer can see a mile away (mainly the Godslayer weapon misdirection) but those don’t affect the story negatively since they don’t matter, this is the journey of Diana, not a journey to beat a villain. It is a personal journey of discovery. I would say that it is a ‘coming of age’ story enveloped in the superhero cape. It explains the jaded views of Diana during BvS (and how the introduction of Superman and Batman brings her out of her funk). The ending is a bit cheesy, 90’s level of cheesiness. But you know? That’s ok. Superheroes can be cheesy.

I loved the small details that added to the movie: the take on Diana’s origins (both classic & New 52), the foreshadowing of the New Gods, Bruce Wayne’s touching detail, Diana’s day job… all were perfect.

The real gem of the movie is Gal Gadot. She IS Wonder Woman as much as RDJR is Iron Man or Hugh Jackman is Wolverine (yes I know, Linda Carter is also WW). She embodies the character like a form fitting glove. The way she portrays Diana, from naive to jaded, from hopeful to in the midst of despair, from peace lover to the greatest Amazon warrior ever is a testament to her range and love for the character. Wonder Woman is a complex character as she predicates peace but is a mighty warrior. Gal Gadot makes you believe that there is no contradiction there.

Kudos to Chris Pine, he gave us a very human Steve Trevor, a regular man deciding to do the right thing even if he was scared beyond his guts. He conveyed several emotions with just his face. And his chemistry with Gal Gadot sold an otherwise common love relationship in a way that is heartbreaking in a good sense.

In general everyone did a great job (even if a few of the characters are paper thin). The movie took advantage of a great cast (of special note is Robin Wright as Antiope. She was incredible in the few scenes she appeared).

Music wise, the soundtrack does it work, the theme of Wonder Woman that premiered in BvS is back to great effect. I love the heavy guitar riff. It’s regal, action packed and iconic. Of the DCEU characters’ themes, is by far the best.

The only weak point of the movie is the photography in certain scenes (mostly some combat ones where the CGI a la 300 is too obvious). However, I doubt it is due Paty Jenkins but more an issue of the in photography style that DC and WB have chosen for the DCEU that owes more to Snyder’s vision. When Jenkins introduced her own style, it was magnificent like with Themiscyra.

One of the parameters I use to measure how much I like a story, in general, is what I call the ‘yearning factor’. Do you know when you finish a story and are left with this bittersweet feeling, a good melancholy vibe that makes you yearn for more stories about that particular character? The need for more to the point you imagine your own extra adventures? The feel to watch the movie over and over because it makes you warm inside? That’s what I call the yearning factor, the need to get more of the story. And WW has it in spades, which is good because given that it aims to be part of a shared universe, will serve an extra hook for watching more about this universe and her role in it.

All in all, this is one of the best superhero movies ever made. I know it sounds like hyperbole, but it is. And it is fitting that one of the members of the Trinity of DCU can claim such stake. If someone can teach Superman and Batman a few things is Wonder Woman. This is a movie about belief and trust, but in story and outside (the trust that WB gave to Patty Jenkins is something that Marvel should examine for once). And it is great that we have now a female lead superhero movie that also works as a positive role for many girls and women around the world. It was about time. And as usual, it had to be Wonder Woman the one to show the way, as it befits the ambassador of Themiscyra and demi-goddess of truth and peace.

Watch it if: you enjoy good superhero films, you like DC comics, kick ass women, Wondy or Gal Gadot. And if you still have hopes for the DCEU project.

Don’t watch it if: if you don’t like DC comics, you don’t like the in-house photography style, you don’t like female superheroes or like the idea of a female director showing how it is done. (but if that’s the case, you shouldn’t be reading this blog either).

Grade: 6 out of 5.

Desirability: I loved the film but my wife liked it so much that even she has agreed we put the preorder of the blu-ray as soon as is possible.

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